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What are sight words? "Sight words" is a term that parents of early elementary students have most likely heard before, but not many people outside of the educational community know what sight words actually are. A simple sight words definition would be common words that a reader should recognize on sight. Sight words are also referred to as "high-frequency words" or "instant words."

Sight words are a group of common words with a high-frequency of use that readers must know on sight, instantly, and automatically in order to develop into an efficient and smooth reader. Some example sight words are a, is, the, of, and, that, in, you, I, and to. The two most popular sight words lists are the Dolch sight words and Fry sight words list.

Many sight words are "service words" (pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and verbs), which cannot be learned through the use of pictures and often cannot be sounded out. Additionally, phonic analysis and decoding rules generally do not apply to sight words learning. To learn sight words a child will want to have them memorized. Learning sight words will ultimately help a child develop into a smooth and efficient reader.

Studies show sight words make up 50-75 percent of all words used in school books, library books, newspapers, and magazines. And the 25 most common sight words make up about one-third of our written material. Without question, sight words will play an important role in your child’s early childhood education and impact your child’s reading efficiency and reading development.

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